Football: Albirex strengthen women's team with former Japan international Kana Kitahara

Kana Kitahara will be joining Albirex from Japanese team Mynavi Sendai Ladies. PHOTO: ALBIREX NIIGATA FC SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Albirex Niigata have signed former Japan international Kana Kitahara, part of the team that finished runners-up at the 2015 World Cup, after a poor start to this season's Women's Premier League (WPL).

The White Swans are sixth in the seven-team WPL, collecting just one point from the three games they have played so far. They have also conceded seven goals, the worst after bottom side Hougang United's 18.

Defender Kitahara, 33, joins from Japanese team Mynavi Sendai Ladies, who came in fifth in the Women Empowerment League, the highest division of women's football in the country.

Before that, she had been with Albirex's team in Japan from 2011 to 2015, making 93 appearances.

Kitahara made her debut for the Japanese national team in 2013 and played nine times for them. Apart from the World Cup, she has also featured at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon where the team claimed the silver medal.

Japan won the Women's World Cup in 2011, the first and only Asian side to do so, and are currently 13th in the world rankings.

Kitahara is eager to contribute to her new team here. She said: "I am very happy to be able to play for Albirex again. Since I decided to leave my former team, many people have been concerned about me.

"It will be a new challenge for me, but playing overseas has been my dream since I started playing soccer. I am very much looking forward to stepping into the unknown and playing in a new world.

"I will do my best to contribute to women's soccer in Singapore."

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